Showing posts with label 3/10. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 3/10. Show all posts

Saturday, 1 February 2014

After Earth



Last summer, the film After Earth was labelled as rubbish by the vast majority of critics. They were all wrong, it’s much worse than that. After Earth came from a story idea by Will Smith which was fleshed out into a feature length screenplay by M. Night Shyamalan and Gary Whitta. The movie was directed by Shyamalan and was produced by and starred Will Smith and his son Jaden. The film gives its audience so little to enjoy that it’s almost offensive and provides none of the action or comedy that we have come to expect from a Will Smith fronted movie.

Set in the distant future, humanity now resides on the planet Nova Prime with the Earth abandoned. A thousand years after their arrival on their new home, the planet is invaded by aliens (irony alert) who wish to destroy our species and conquer the planet. Their primary weapon is the Ursa; a large, blind predator that is able to smell human fear. One man, General Cypher Raige (Will Smith) has the ability to ‘ghost’ – be free of fear and as such invisible to the Ursa. His son Kitai (Jaden Smith) is a Ranger Cadet who has hopes of replicating his father’s talents. The two are somewhat estranged but Cypher takes his son on a training mission which inadvertently crash lands on Earth, home to numerous deadly creatures as well as an Ursa on the loose.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Oldboy



Anyone who knows me personally or has read my review of Park Chan-wook’s 2003 revenge thriller Oldboy will be aware that the Korean film is one of my favourite movies of this young century. Its initial success and cult status in the West meant it was only a matter of time before a Hollywood remake reached the cinema. Talk of a Steven Spielberg-Will Smith project came and went and instead, ten years after the original, we’re hit squarely in the face with Spike Lee’s Oldboy, a sanitised and surprisingly safe American version. The film is based on the Korean movie rather than the original Japanese Manga but contains subtle and often baffling differences.

The story is of Joe Doucett (Josh Brolin). Doucett is a man on the verge of losing his job, a man who spends too much time with the bottle and not enough time with his wife and young daughter. Following a heavy night of drinking he awakens in what appears to be a motel room. It soon becomes apparent that his ‘room’ is in fact a cell, a cell in which he will spend the next twenty years of his life locked up for a reason that he cannot fathom. While incarcerated Joe is framed for his wife’s murder and sees his young daughter adopted. Inexplicably after two decades Joe is released and given the task of working out who kept him prisoner and why he was framed for the grizzly murder of his wife.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

The Lone Ranger



Something is happening in Hollywood. Something which isn’t new but is becoming more apparent with each passing year. Studios are throwing vast sums of money at films in the hope that the sheer amount of razzmatazz on screen, couple with stars and overblown effects will prize people from their sofas and towards the cinema. The problem with this is that the films are becoming ever more formulaic and uninspiring as studios attempt to attract the maximum number of people to their films. It’s the same with most art forms that the more broad you make your product, the less exciting and unique it will be. Mumford and Sons might outsell Goat but only one of those bands sound like a Saturday night pub band that got too big for their cowboy boots. When I think of the studios that are producing the type of big budget, low risk films I’m discussing here, the one that springs to mind first is Disney.

Disney obviously have a tradition of making family movies and as such you aren’t expecting gore or thrilling twists but they’ve managed to entertain generations of people simultaneously for decades while maintaining their wholesome image. They also have a strong tradition of borrowing stories from other sources but appear to be on a run at the moment of producing the blandest of films which are amongst the most expensive in history. Alice in Wonderland, Oz the Great and Powerful, John Carter and now The Lone Ranger are all films which make use of established, much loved characters in films which Disney have sucked all the life and fun out of. The problem they’re really facing though is that they’re no longer guaranteed $600 million if they plough $250 million into a movie and not only that, the films themselves are dull and don’t even warrant a second viewing.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

The Bling Ring



Between 2008 and 2009 a group of mostly privileged, celebrity obsessed teenagers burgled the homes of several celebrities, making off with over $3 million in jewellery, clothes, bags and other designer accessories. The group coined ‘The Bling Ring’ were the subject of a Vanity Fair article which forms the basis of this film from director Sofia Coppola. The film focuses on the acts of burglary, what the teens wanted, what they got and some of the consequences they faced when eventually discovered.

To me the premise sounded interesting. I had no prior knowledge of the robberies and hadn’t heard of the group until I began seeing trailers for the film. It looked to be a satire on obsession with fame and greed and reminded me a little of the similar but deeply flawed Spring Breakers. This film annoyed me even more than that. I should state right here that I abhor the fame hungry, greed inspired culture that some teenagers aspire to be a part of. My girlfriend occasionally (often) puts on programmes like The Hills or E! News and they make me so angry that I have to leave the room. There are few people on the planet I despise more than those who seek fame and fortune without the talent to deserve it. This film focuses on exactly those kinds of people and appears to glorify their actions.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

The Hangover Part III



I seem to be different to everyone else. Not just different like we’re all different but different, different. I don’t think that Peter Kay saying the words ‘garlic’ and ‘bread’ in close proximity is remotely funny yet he has sold more than ten million DVDs in the UK. The phrase ‘Am I bovered’ no matter how cockney’ed up also fails to draw a smile. When The Hangover was released in 2009 I didn’t see it in the cinema but months later I gave into the pressure of everyone telling me it was the best comedy since sliced film and I watched it at home with my girlfriend. I thought it was dreadful. About a year later we ventured to the cinema to see Part II with a large audience. This time it was even worse. I thought it was offensive and not at all funny but was surrounded on all sides by people having the time of their lives. It was with great trepidation then, and immediate regret, that I took a few hours on my day off to see The Hangover Part III and d’you know what? I think it’s the best of the series.

I use the phrase ‘best’ in the same way as one might describe Albert Speer as the best Nazi. Sure he was a Nazi but didn’t he design some lovely buildings? What I’m getting at is that The Hangover Part III is the best of a bad bunch. Once again I might find myself in the minority here and I’m sure the cinemas will be packed for weeks with guffawing humans, rocking back and forth in their seats and looking at each other with mutual recognition that they are part of a group. The third (and hopefully final) instalment of The Hangover series is neither as offensive nor as formulaic as the second film and about as funny as the first. I laughed once and smiled about four or five times.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Red Dawn



Red Dawn isn’t a film I had any interest in seeing and certainly wouldn’t have gone out of my way to see but as with Cloud Atlas, I took the opportunity to see it on a recent flight. And as with my Cloud Atlas review, this will be half remembered, rambling and make little sense. A bit like the film – who’s with me? No. Ok. The movie’s ridiculous plot is based on the 1984 movie of the same name, a film I remember seeing when I was in my early teens but a film which left no impact on me. The story is set against a North Korean invasion of the USA. When his small Washington town comes under a surprise attack by the North Korean army, on leave U.S. Marine Jed Eckert (Chris Hemsworth) escapes to the woods with a group of teens and begins a fight back against the new regime.

I remember playing a video game with a similar premise to this film about twelve years ago which I really enjoyed. From what I recall you played a plumber in New York City and had to take back the city from the Soviets using guerrilla tactics. It was a lot of fun. Red Dawn isn’t. In 1984 the idea that the Soviets could attack, let alone invade the US was far fetched but you go with it. In 2013 the idea that North Korea could invade the US West Coast is preposterous (famous last words) but the movie makes use of current tensions and enemies to provide an adversary. As ridiculous as the idea that the North Koreans could successfully invade the US is, the idea that all that is left to defend the country are a group of unbelievably attractive teens and Thor is perhaps the most ridiculous part of the entire movie.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

A Good Day to Die Hard



Twenty-five years since the beginning of the terrific Die Hard trilogy and nearly six years after the quite frankly terrible Die Hard 4.0 (you know, like computers) John McLane (Bruce Willis) is back for a fifth instalment of Dying Hard but not actually ever dying ever. As with a lot of tired, out of ideas sequels, Die Hard 5 takes place outside the US and finds our hero in MosCOW on the trail of his wayward son Jack (Jai Courtney) who he learns is due in a Russian Court on a murder charge. What John doesn’t realise however is that Jack is in fact a CIA Agent, working undercover to protect a political prisoner (Sebastian Koch) who has a highly sensitive file on a high ranking Russian Politician.

A Good Day to Die Hard tries its best to construct a story worthy of the original trilogy and even springs a surprise twist but nothing can mask that fact that this movie is boring. Dull, dull, stare, drive, BOOM!, guns, dull, talk, father-son, dull, driving, radiation, BOOM! BOOM! Hahaha, end. There is an incredibly tortured father-son relationship thing which gets dragged out for far too long and some stuff about Uranium but for the most part Die Hard 5 is just another run of the mill action shooter with far too much money to play with and not enough inventiveness.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

The Pilgrim



Charlie Chaplin’s shortest feature or longest short, depending on which way you’d like to view it, is important for a number of reasons. Not only was it his final short film before moving to features permanently but it was also his last film to co star Edna Purviance. Purviance stared in over thirty of Chaplin’s films and was his leading lady for eight years but The Pilgrim was her final major onscreen appearance with Chaplin*. The movie also bought to an end a fruitful relationship with The First National Film Company. Following this film Chaplin would produce his final films with United Artists, the company he founded with D. W. Griffith, Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks. Those films would go on to define Chaplin’s long career.

Besides the above reasons there is little worth remembering about The Pilgrim and for me it is a bit of a blot on an otherwise successful era for Chaplin. The Pilgrim begins slowly and never kicks into a high gear. There is very little humour or comedy of any sort and the story, while occasionally attention-grabbing, didn’t do anything for me. The ending was nice but The Pilgrim isn’t a film I’ll be returning to in a hurry. In a typical case of mistaken identity an escaped convict (Charlie Chaplin) dresses as a preacher and takes a train to Texas where he is immediately taken for a small town’s new Church leader. His past comes back to haunt him though as an old friend makes a surprise appearance.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Mirror Mirror



Based on the Grimm fairytale Snow White, Mirror Mirror is an uninspiring and unoriginal 2012 retelling starring Lilly Collins as Snow White and Julie Roberts as the Wicked Queen. The story differs slightly from the original fairytale in that it makes Snow more of a feminist hero in keeping with modern studio tastes. Otherwise it is fairly similar to the story that everyone knows. The film came out just a couple of months before another disastrous retelling of the same story, Snow White and the Huntsman and although I didn’t hate this version as much I certainly didn’t like it.

The best thing that Mirror Mirror has going for it are its lavish costumes and indeed the film has now been nominated for an Academy Award in that category joining the likes of W.E. and Transformers: Dark of the Moon as unlikely and infuriating recent recipients of Oscar nominations in technical categories. Mirror Mirror attempts a lighter tone than Huntsman but the comedy failed to raise a smile from my jaded face. The film is in the end an overly expensive rehashing of a story which has been told better in the past.

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Pitch Perfect



AAAHHHH! Pitch Perfect is a teen comedy(?) about a ‘alternative girl’ called Beca (Anna Kendrick) who goes to college despite wanting to go straight to L.A. to try and make it as a record producer. She struggles to make friends in her first few weeks so her Dad (who happens to work at the college) tells her if she joins a social group and still hates her first year, he will pay for her to drop out of college and go to L.A. Beca chooses or rather is chosen for an all girl a cappella group called the Bellas. Beca finds that her free spirit and creativity is choked by the fellow Bellas but slowly begins to enjoy her time with the group. Also there’s some boy stuff, a radio station and room mate who is written in an incredibly racist way.



I went into the film with an open mind and thought that the trailer showed potential. There was a funny gag about the fat girl calling herself fat and an awkward scene in the shower. I also think that Anna Kendrick is showing promise as a great actress. Unfortunately the film is less of a let down and more a steaming pile of popularity pandering and obvious conclusions featuring a soundtrack which for a good hour made me hate music.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

The Room

In 2003 an unknown filmmaker called Tommy Wiseau wrote, produced, directed and stared in the independent film The Room. Although thousands of independent movies are released every year, Tommy’s was different. The Room was perhaps the worst film ever made and has since gained cult status, growing with popularity all the time as it is discovered by new people. If you search for The Room on YouTube you will find clips with views in their millions and about two years after first being told about the film, I finally watched the entire thing today. Although I’d seen the clips and had heard the stories, nothing could quite prepare me for the ninety-nine minutes I saw. I have never seen a film that was as bad as The Room but I have seen plenty which I have enjoyed less and although billed as a drama, I laughed as much as I have during any film this year.


The plot centres around three people in a love triangle. Johnny (Tommy Wiseau) is a fairly successful banker living with his fiancĂ© Lisa (Juliette Danielle) who is a bit of a bitch. Jonny piles his unusual love on her and they seem very happy together but she has eyes for his best friend Mark (Greg Sestero). Lisa begins an affair with Mark who is at first worried about destroying his friendship with Johnny but soon finds Lisa too irresistible to ignore. Lisa’s mother get’s cancer but this is swiftly ignored and never mentioned again. Johnny begins to get depressed and becomes even more incoherent that usual. Then he pets a dog and plays football in a tuxedo. Mark becomes increasingly agitated and as a result his beard sometimes disappears only to come back in the next scene. The film comes to a head at Johnny’s birthday party where Lisa invites all of Johnny’s friends. Johnny tells her that this was a good idea but is still suspicious about his fiancĂ© and best friend…

Saturday, 22 September 2012

A Lonely Place to Die



A group of five friends are on holiday, hiking and climbing around the remote mountains of Northern Scotland when they chance upon a strange noise. Tracking it down they discover a pipe sticking out of the ground and what appears to be a girl trapped in a box underground. After setting her free they begin their trek to the nearest town to report a kidnapping but are chased every step of the way by the shady men who put the girl in the hole in the first place.

I have a vague recollection of the film’s title and my girlfriend assures me that we wanted to see it so she borrowed it from a friend. I wish she hadn’t bothered. The plot is ok but doesn’t go deep enough and the acting and dialogue seem like they were done by people who understood the concept but had never actually seen it practiced.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

The Vow


Around four minutes into The Vow I looked down at the notes I was making and they read “Why sex in the middle of the road?” “How did he get her permit?” “He looks like a potato”. I was tempted to just make that my review but I will go on.

Paige Collins (Rachel McAdams) and her husband Leo (Channing Tatum) are driving back from the movies when she decides to initiate sex at a set of traffic lights. Most people would perhaps wait until they were home or maybe nip down an alley but Paige goes for it in the middle of a snow covered street. After taking her seatbelt off the car is rear ended by a truck which sends Paige through the windshield in ultra slow motion. Once Paige wakes up in hospital with the smallest scars imaginable, we discover that she has short term memory loss and has forgotten her entire life with Leo. He looks like a confused Mr Potato head and runs away but decides to come back and try to get her to remember their life together (without using any photos, videos, texts or facebook updates etc). His quest is complicated with the introduction of Paige’s stuffy parents (Jessica Lange & Sam Neill) who want their daughter back.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Triple Trouble

Charlie Chaplin’s final Essanay film is probably his most controversial. Unlike the controversy his films created in the 1930s and 40s, the controversy surrounding Triple Trouble comes from its very existence. The two reel film was created in 1918; two years after Chaplin left Essanay and was compiled by Chaplin regular Leo White. White directed some sequences and took other scenes from Police as well as the ending from Work and some unused footage from the never completed Life. The result is a hodgepodge of half completed jokes, tired scenes and uneven continuity.

The plot (I think) involves Chaplin working in the house of a scientist/Count (Leo White) as a janitor. Having got into his trademark trouble and briefly bumping into a Maid (Edna Purviance) whose role is not expanded, the janitor finds a bed for the night at a flophouse. While there a pickpocket enters and starts stealing from the residents. The janitor attempts to stop him and then for some reason runs away from the police. Later the janitor meets an old friend who convinces the cleaner to help him to steal from his employers.


Friday, 13 July 2012

His Regeneration

A tough criminal gets in to an argument in a dancehall which escalates into a fight. When the criminal is shot he is aided by a mysterious woman and recovers. Once he recovers he burgles a house but gets a surprise which puts an end to his criminal path.

This is a bit of an oddity amongst my Charlie Chaplin – Essanay box set in that it isn’t a Chaplin film at all. Instead Chaplin has a credit as ‘slightly assisted by’ and has a very brief cameo in front of the camera too. The film was actually directed, written and starred in by Chaplin’s boss and co-head of Essanay Gilbert M. Anderson (Broncho Billy).

For a Charlie Chaplin fan this is one to ignore as Chaplin is on screen for all of thirty seconds. He tries to push his way to the front of a queue, is sent back and then gets pushed around when people start dancing. The film itself is forgettable and features a confusing and slightly dull storyline. Its saving grace though is its acting which feels remarkably real and natural compared to Chaplin’s regular cast. It is this that saves it from the depths of being a one star movie.    

3/10

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Battle: Los Angeles

"Now you got three hours to get your ass back before those bombs drop, and make no mistake THEY WILL DROP! with... or without you"

Staff Sergeant Nantz (Aaron Eckhart) is on the verge of retiring from the US Marines when he gets called back into action one last time to help repel an alien attack on L.A. What scientists first suspect to be meteors turn out to be the ships of an unidentified species of alien who intend to colonise the Earth and drain its resources. Under the leadership of an untested Lieutenant and with a squad of Marines who don’t trust him, Nantz must help a band of civilians to escape Santa Monica before it is blown up by the Air Force.

This is a film with a multitude of problems which start with the character introductions. For a start there are too many, all introduced with a minute or two of back story. They are all stock characters which have been seen a thousand times. We have the guy who’s getting married, the untested Officer, the guy whose brother was killed, the guy in therapy, the guy from New Joizey, the guy from Texas and perhaps more unusually the guy from Nigeria who enlisted for citizenship. I couldn’t tell you any more about the characters than that and never really cared for any of them. Later they are joined by a female Air Force (pilot? I think) (Michelle Rodriguez) along with five civilians, three of which are children.


Thursday, 12 April 2012

Battleship

Battleship is loosely based on the board game Battlships and stars Taylor Kitsch as an unlikely hero in a battle between the US Navy and alien invaders. We see Kitsch at the beginning of the film in a bar being told he has to think about his future. He is 26 and without a job, living on the sofa of his Naval Officer brother’s house. He is reckless and seemingly lacks direction. Then suddenly he is a Lieutenant in the US Navy and in charge of the weapons or something on the USS John Paul Jones (which isn’t named after the Led Zeppelin bassist unfortunately). While out on manoeuvres with an international fleet off the coast of Hawaii, Kitsch (and Rihanna…sigh…) are sent to investigate a crashed UFO somewhere in the Ocean. It transpires that five alien ships have been dispatched to Earth after a transmission to their home planet. After travelling though millions of miles of space, one ship inexplicably hits a satellite in Earth’s orbit, while the other four plunge into the Pacific Ocean. Admiral Shane (Liam Neeson) orders a warning shot which starts a battle. A battle with ships.

I was sceptical going in about how a film could be made based on a game I used to play with my dad using two pens and a maths exercise book. For about five minutes, two thirds in, the film succeeds in making a film like the game. This sequence is also exciting and interesting. For the rest of the film, bar the odd overhead shot of ships in formation, it might as well have been any old Naval action movie.

There is so much wrong with this movie that I could go on for pages but I’ll try and keep it brief. Firstly, the dialogue is atrocious. It’s like it was written by a teenager who has seen two action movies. It is so cheesy that it is actually funny. Secondly, the acting is really bad. Good actors such as Neeson and Alexander Skarsgard have no more than fifteen minutes of screen time between them and instead we are left with Rihanna who mainly sits by a computer and says “Yes Sir!” I’m pleased that she didn’t take the Britney Spears Crossroads route into acting but she hardly sets the world alight and her casting is an obvious attempt to draw in people who wouldn’t see the movie without her in it. Brooklyn Decker spends most of the film standing on a mountain with a legless man, looking confused but pretty. This is apart from one scene in which she is somehow channels Colin McRae and becomes a rally driver. She is nothing more than eye candy here. After the critical and commercial failure of John Carter, Taylor Kitsch again fails to impress and lacks the charisma to carry the film. I personally think that Skarsgard would have been a better choice for the role. He completely outclasses Kitsch in their scenes together and has bags of charisma.  The whole film is played far too straight. It is always so serious. Blockbusters used to be fun and this definitely isn’t.

Much of the film is stupid and makes no sense. After an alien craft destroys a 7,000 tonne Cruiser, a mile away, it then fails to blow up a rubber dinghy carrying Kitsch and Rihanna which is ten feet from its hull. Also, after a ship has been destroyed with tremendous loss of life, someone asks Kitsch if everyone is ok to which he replies “Yes!” What he meant to say is “Well I’m fine, Rihanna’s fine and the Japanese guys alright too”. The entire plot is as full of holes as the destroyed Cruiser while the obvious product placement will have you stopping by Subway on your way home to pick up a Coke Zero. One thing that really annoyed me was the constant robotic/electronic noises which permeate the whole film. They are present in most sci-fi action films but just sound ridiculous. The film’s ending is ridiculous too.

The next paragraph contains spoilers.

After aliens have destroyed all of the modern ships, Kitsch et al find the 70 year old museum ship the USS Missouri and along with about five shells and a crew of pensioners manage to defeat the aliens when 21st Century technology has failed! Its admirable that the film makers used real WWII Veterans but their inclusion helps to pile on the cheesiness.  

Spoilers over. 

On the plus side, some of the GCI is good. The design of the alien ships and particularly the aliens themselves were excellent. A lot of though had gone into what they looked like and why and they were very believable. Another aspect I liked was that the aliens are never the aggressors. This also felt realistic and believable. If we went to a new world, we wouldn’t go in all guns blazing Independence Day style but would identify targets and differentiate between friend and foe. At the beginning of the film I thought that maybe this would be a rare Blockbuster in which the USA doesn’t go it alone but apart from a token Japanese guy, the excellent Tadanobu Asano (Zatoichi) this turned out to be the case.

The message the film delivers is commendable but is unfortunately lost in the explosions. The film is trying to tell us that sometimes the old ways are better and that we shouldn’t rely too heavily on technology but the way it tells you is ridiculous and laughable. On the whole the film is a massive disappointment. It is too long, it takes itself far too seriously, is no fun and features terrible acting and dialogue. The relationships feel false and while you’d expect a side of cheese, here it is served as the main course. If you want to watch Transformers on water then this is for you but if you want something more you need look elsewhere.

3/10

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Morning Glory

Morning Glory is a 2010 comedy (apparently) drama set in New York. Becky Fuller (Rachel McAdams) is an up and coming TV News producer who loses her job on a New Jersey TV show due to budget cuts. She lands a job in New York City at Daybreak, a national morning network show which is struggling with poor ratings and a lack of funding and direction. Becky sacks the male anchor and tries to get veteran journalist Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford) to join co anchor Colleen Peck (Diane Keaton) in fronting the show. Pomeroy has to accept due to a clause in his contract but makes it clear both on and off air that he is above the show and doesn’t want to be there. Somehow Becky must try to improve the ratings before her boss Jerry Barnes (Jeff Goldblum) cancels the show.

Do you think she will manage it? Will Mike Pomeroy come around and save the show? Will Becky end up in a relationship with the hot guy she meets on her first day? Of course she will. The plot is so obvious you might as well have a director’s commentary telling you what is going to happen next. It isn’t just the plot that’s obvious but specific parts of the dialogue. I found myself saying what characters were about to say before they said it. The film treats its audience like idiots, as does the TV show which they are trying to save. It is the kind of sunny, happy, vacuous show that is on some channels in the morning. You know the type. Here in the UK it’s whatever is shitting all over the screen if you tune into ITV in the morning. I was actually routing for the arrogant and grumpy Pomeroy when he tried to inject some current affairs in amongst the stories of psychic pets and celebrity name changes. Occasionally the script will make fun of these types of shows but then go straight back to telling Pomeroy he can’t talk about the news.


The film has one of those terribly annoying and patronising soundtracks which sound like a tampon advert. Every time Becky makes strides we get some uplifting warbling from Natasha Bedingfield and then some slow schmaltz when she hits hard times. It’s predictable and lazy.

There are so many idiotic problems with the film. After losing her job, Becky is offered a job in NYC which is one of the most expensive cities in the world. She is told she will be earning half what she earned in New Jersey but moves in to an apartment that is large enough to swing several cats. Also, while she is still on the verge of having her failing show cancelled, she is offered her dream job on The Today Show, which makes no sense. What makes even less sense is that she turns down her dream because Harrison Ford makes a bloody frittata on TV! It’s infuriating. The Daybreak office is unrealistically unkempt. The filmmakers try to get across the idea that the show is in turmoil by having everyone speak at once in a production meeting and showing that the door knobs are broken. I’m pretty sure that even the forth biggest morning show in the richest nation on earth could replace a couple of f***ing door knobs! This film is so stupid!


This is a truly terrible film but is partially salvaged by four excellent actors. At least three of them should have gone nowhere near it but nonetheless, all four are good. Rachel McAdams is affable as Becky. This is a role she is comfortable in but has done many times before and since. Diane Keaton is believable as a news anchor and Jeff Goldbum is good in a very small role but is by no means stretched. The standout is Harrison Ford though who, although playing a version of himself brings some gravitas to the film. His character really seems like he doesn’t want to be there, but that could just be the actor’s emotions showing through. Patrick Wilson also features but has so little to do it is hardly worth mentioning him. He basically has to flirt with Rachel McAdams and act sad when she thinks about work too much.

I wouldn’t recommend this film to anyone. Even for fans of the normal Rachel McAdams rom-com type films, this would be disappointing. It isn’t funny, nor is the idea interesting. The romantic storyline feels like it was added on the set and if not for some fine actors paying their bills I wouldn’t have made it to the end. There is nothing to like here.

3/10

Sunday, 19 February 2012

No Strings Attached


This is yet another sex friends romantic comedy, a genre that has become far too popular in the last couple of years. Emma (Natalie Portman) and Adam (Ashton Kutcher) keep bumping into one another over a period of fifteen years and eventually have sex. Emma is afraid of relationships and commitment etc so they decide to forgo any relationship and just have no strings attached sex. Predictably things don’t stay sweet for long and when Adam wants more from their relationship, Emma decided to break it off only to realise that she really does love him after all. Maybe I should have started this paragraph with ‘Spoiler Alert’ but anyone with an IQ higher than that of a Satsuma could guess how things are going to go.

After winning her Oscar for Black Swan it would appear that Portman is taking time off from acting by appearing in both this and Your Highness in the same year. I hope her sabbatical ends soon because she is wasted in these roles. Ashton Kutcher plays the Ashton Kutcher character, something he plays well but he is an annoying screen presence who sucks the life out of any movie he appears in. Some of the supporting cast are ok but there are far too many of them so no one character gets more than a few lines of dialogue. The character of Adam’s father, which was quite a large role, served no purpose and the father and son back story went nowhere.

Kutcher proving he can bench press 90lbs
The story is so unbelievably dull and predictable that my girlfriend (who made me watch the film) suggested turning it off half way though. I think it is trying to be clever by using the female character as the one who is afraid of commitment but this is hardly a new idea and the sex-friends angle has been done numerous times recently in films such as Love & Other Drugs (review here) and Friends with Benefits both of which are far sweeter and funnier.

The film did have one or two good lines and I laughed once and chucked a couple of times but it falls well short of the Kermode five-laughs-or-more-makes-a-comedy rule which I Adhere to. I also felt no compassion for Portman’s character who we are meant to feel sorry for when she realises she has made a mistake. It’s her own stupid fault.

This film should be avoided at all costs. If you really want to see a fuck buddies comedy then try one of the films mentioned above instead.

3/10

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Hall Pass

Below are a picture of Nicky Whelan and a two minute clip of Stephen Merchant. Look at these and save yourself the 109 minutes it would take to watch Hall Pass.






The film stars Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis as married best friends who are entering middle age. Though happily married, they both fondly remember their time as single men where they were free to do whatever they wanted to whoever they wanted. After a series of forgettable mishaps and arguments, both of their wives, played by Jenna Fischer and Christina Applegate, agree to give them a ‘Hall Pass’ or week off from marriage. The next ninety minutes of your life are spent watching what they get up to.

I decided to watch this film because I’d seen Stephen Merchant in the trailer and thought he seemed funny in the film. I’m a fan of both his solo work and his writing with Ricky Gervais so thought I’d give it a go. Unfortunately, he is only on screen for about four minutes. While he is the funniest thing in these few fleeting moments, it is not nearly enough and the rest of the film is very thin on the ground with laughter. I found myself smile a couple of times and chuckle once.

The idea of a Hall Pass is interesting and occasionally the film skirts around the philosophy of relationships. I wish there had been more of this as these were often the best moments of the film. The rest of the film is spent watching a couple of forty-somethings eat food, lie on hotel beds and occasionally try to meet women. Their disastrous attempts are meant to be funny but just aren’t and when things do start to change for the better for Owen Wilson’s character, he is pursued by a beautiful college student (Alexandra Daddario) and gorgeous barista (Nicky Whelan) which just seemed a little unlikely given his failed attempts to attract a woman throughout the rest of the film. What Fischer and Applegate get up to is more interesting and I think the film would have benefitted from spending more time with them.   


One Film
No Laughs

Towards the end, the film comes to the incredible conclusion that actually both men and women like sex (who knew?) and that although relationships can be difficult at times, they need to be worked at and everyone lives happily ever after… Snore.

The acting is not terrible but there is nothing for the actors to do. Everyone seems to have one eye on their bank balance, plodding through until they can move on to something else.

3/10